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Stars vs. Lightning NHL Odds & Pick: Bet Dallas in Wednesday’s Must-Win Matchup (May 5)

Stars vs. Lightning NHL Odds & Pick: Bet Dallas in Wednesday’s Must-Win Matchup (May 5) article feature image

Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dallas Stars center Joe Pavelski (16).

  • While the Lightning are playing for home ice in the playoffs, the Stars are in desperate need of a win to make it.
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down where he sees betting value in this Central Division showdown.

Stars vs. Lightning Odds

Stars Odds+135
Lightning Odds-160
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday and via BetMGM.

The Dallas Stars will head to the Amalie Arena in Tampa attempting to claim a critical two points from the defending champion Lightning.

It will be close to do-or-die Wednesday night for last year’s Western Conference champion Stars who are four points behind Nashville for the final spot in the central division having played one fewer game, with just four contests remaining.

Let’s see where we can find betting value in tonight’s game.

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Dallas Stars

Dallas took a tough overtime loss at Nashville in Saturday’s critical matchup, and another Tuesday night in Florida to extend its league leading losses past regulation to 14. The Stars are also just 2-6 in shootouts, versus Nashville’s 5-0 record, in what could be a frustrating deciding factor to a very close race with the Predators for the last spot.

The Stars continue to hold the opposition to minuscule scoring chance totals, and have consistently had positive play driving numbers all season long. Over their past 10 outings, the Stars own an xGF% of 54.64, including an xGA/60 of 1.83.

Injuries to top-six forwards in Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov have undoubtedly left a void this season, as depth scoring has certainly been an area of concern for the goal deprived Stars. Beyond the excellent top line of Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, and Joe Pavelski the team has not offered much offensively this season. Tyler Seguin did return Tuesday, and has the potential to offer an offensive boost to a club in need of one.

The Stars may opt to start Jake Oettinger here, who has been the better of their two goaltending options this year, and was strong in relief of Anton Khudobin Monday vs Florida.

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers and advanced stats cited from Evolving Hockey, MoneyPuck and Natural Stat Trick.

Tampa Bay Lighting

Tampa Bay are starting to look closer to their cup winning selves of late,  entering this one 5-0-1 in their last six contests. The Bolts have slumbered at times in this season, and it will likely cost them first in the division as the Hurricanes now hold a six-point lead with just four contests remaining. So the Lightning appear to be headed for a very exciting intrastate matchup with the Florida Panthers in Round 1.

The Lightning have not been outright dominant this year, but have shown off the organization’s stellar depth, and given favorable returns of Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov, and Captain Steven Stamkos could still be the team to beat in the East with a roster showing no clear weaknesses.

Vezina candidate Andrei Vasilevskiy did not play in either of the last two contests against Detroit, but most likely Jon Cooper was just making a smart decision to manage the superstars starts prior to playoffs. Vasi should be likely to return in this one, but I certainly will be looking keenly for confirmation of that ahead of the game as the drop-off between him and back up is very significant.

Betting Analysis & Pick

Tampa is still playing for home ice advantage in Round 1, but realistically I think they are mainly just trying to get to the playoffs injury free and playing the right way. The Lightning have not been overly dominant over the past month, and although I believe they look to be rounding closer to playoff form we will not see a true sense of urgency from this group until Game 1 of the playoffs.

Dallas should come out very desperate in this one, and I expect to see a very structured team game from them offering very little to Tampa Bay offensively.  Given a +135 number, I see value in backing the Stars to keep their playoff dreams alive for another night in this one in what should be a well contested affair.

Pick: Stars +135

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